ICAM Major

The Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts program in the Music and Visual Art departments draws upon, and aims to bring together, ideas and paradigms from computer science, art and cultural theory.


It takes for granted that the computer has become a meta-medium and that artists and musicians working with computers are expected to combine different media forms in their works. This makes the program unique among other currently existing computer art or design programs.

The program also recognizes that creating sophisticated artistic works with computers requires a new model of the creative process, one that combines traditional artistic procedures with the experimental research characteristic of the sciences.

The goals of the program are:

  • to prepare the next generation of artists who will be functioning in a computer-mediated culture
  • to give students necessary technical, theoretical and historical backgrounds so they can contribute to the development of new aesthetics for computer media
  • to prepare students to mediate between the worlds of computer science and technology, the arts, and the culture at large by being equally proficient with computing and cultural concepts
  • to give students sufficient understanding of the trajectories of development in computing so they can anticipate and work with the emerging trends, rather than being locked in particular software currently available on the market

Majors entering as Freshmen   ^

All courses taken to satisfy major requirements must be taken for a letter grade, and only grades of C- or better will be accepted in the major.

Lower Division Requirements

(eight courses required)

Students should complete the following lower-division courses within six quarters (by the end of their sophomore year):

MUS 4 Introduction to Western Music
VIS 1 Introduction to Art-Making*
VIS 41 Design Communication
MATH 20A Calculus for Science and Engineering**
MATH 20B Calculus for Science and Engineering**
CSE 11 Introduction to Computer Science: JAVA***

choose one:
MUS 1A Fundamentals of Music
MUS 2A Basic Musicianship
MUS 5 Sound in Time

choose one:
MUS 6 Electronic Music
MUS 7 Music, Science, and Computers
MUS 14 Contemporary Music

* VIS 2 (Introduction to Art-Making: Motion and Time Based Art) or VIS 3 (Introduction to Art Making: Three-Dimensional Practices) can be substituted for VIS 1

** MATH 10A, 10B, and 10C (Calculus) can be substituted for MATH 20A and 20B

*** CSE 11 is an accelerated course in the JAVA programming language. CSE 8A and 8B, which cover the same material in a non-accelerated format, may be substituted.


Upper-Division Requirements

(twelve courses required)

ICAM 110 Computing in the Arts: Current Practice

Theory and History
VIS 159 History of Art and Technology

  -and- choose one from below:

VIS 142 Practices in Computing Arts
VIS 145A Digital Media I: Time, Movement, Sound
MUS 170 Musical Acoustics

MUS 111 World Music Traditions
MUS 114 Music of the Twentieth Century
MUS 175 Musical Psychoacoustics
VIS 123CN Early Print Culture: The First Media Revolution
VIS 125E History of Performance
VIS 150 History and Art of the Silent Cinema
VIS 151 History of the Experimental Film
VIS 152 Film in Social Context
VIS 153 The Genre Series
VIS 154 Hard Look at the Movies
VIS 155 The Director Series
VIS 157 Video History and Criticism
VIS 158 Histories of Photography                                          VIS 194S Fantasy in Film


Advanced - choose four from:

MUS 177 Music Programming
ICAM 120 Virtual Environments
VIS 149 Seminar in Contemporary Computer Topics
MUS 171 Computer Music I
MUS 172 Computer Music II
MUS 173 Audio Production: Mixing and Editing
MUS 174A/B/C Audio and MIDI Studio Techniques
MUS 176 Music Technology Seminar
TDDE 141 Theatre Process: Sound Design
VIS 109 Advanced Projects in Media
VIS 131 Special Projects in Media
VIS 132 Installation Production and Studio
VIS 141A Computer Programming for the Arts I
VIS 141B Computer Programming for the Arts II
VIS 145B Digital Media II
VIS 147A Electronic Technologies for Art I
VIS 147B Electronic Technologies for Art II
VIS 174 Media Sketchbook



Senior Project
ICAM 160A Senior Project in Computer Arts
ICAM 160B Senior Project in Computer Arts



Link to Visual Arts webpage for ICAM and Vis Arts Course Descriptions & Annual Schedule:   ^

Course Descriptions

Typical Annual Schedule

Link to Computer Science and Engineering webpage for CSE Course Descriptions & Annual Schedule: 

Course Descriptions

Typical Annual Schedule

Link to Mathematics webpage for Math Course Descriptions & Annual Schedule (select Course Descriptions or Planned Course Offerings):

Course Descriptions

Typical Annual Schedule

Recommendations for Transfer Students   ^

Transfer students should attempt to complete the following lower division-equivalent courses before transferring to UCSD: CSE 11 (or CSE 8A-B), MATH 20A-B (or Math 10A-B-C), and MUS 4. Go to http://www.assist.org "ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California's public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California."

Students should also be able to find courses equivalent to MUS 1A, 6, and 14 at some colleges. While some of these may be listed on ASSIST, transfer students should be prepared to provide course descriptions, syllabi, and/or other materials that may be required to determine the content of the courses taken at other institutions.

Transfers entering with 36 or more quarter units by their third quarter of study at UCSD should complete their remaining lower division courses for the major by the end of the third quarter.

Transfer students majoring in Music ICAM may or may not graduate in 2 years depending on the courses taken prior to UCSD.

Faculty   ^


Amy Alexander, M.F.A., Associate Professor, Visual Arts


Sheldon Brown, M.F.A., Professor, Visual Arts


Shlomo Dubnov, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Music


Tom Erbe, B.S., Studio Director, Music


Louis Hock, M.F.A., Professor, Visual Arts


Lev Manovich, Ph.D., Professor, Visual Arts


Peter Otto, M.F.A., Music Technology Director, Music


Miller Puckette, Ph.D., Professor, Music


Tamara Smyth, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Music


Brett Stalbaum, M.F.A., Lecturer, Visual Arts